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F5 Tackles BYOD with MDM Products and Services

News roundup: F5 announces MDM software and SaaS service; Citrix leverages Zenprise acquisition to launch XenMobile; GroundWork Monitor watches hybrid cloud environments.

F5 has announced Mobile App Manager, a new set of products and services that puts F5 squarely in the mobile device management space. F5 aims to address one of the key challenges of mobile devices: how to protect corporate apps and data on mobile devices that are owned by the end user.

Mobile App Manager works by adding policy controls, which F5 calls "app wrappers," to corporate-issued applications. These policy controls, which include encryption, ensure that users can't transfer information from a corporate app to a personal app. For example, if the company deploys a corporate file share application, a user couldn't transfer a file from that corporate app to a personal app such as Dropbox. If an employee leaves the company, the company can lock out the user's access to corporate apps on the device without touching the user's personal apps or data. In effect, this segments the corporate side of the device from the user's side.

To make this work, a company sets up a corporate app portal. It can write its own apps and add third-party apps to the portal, though it will have to work with those third parties to wrap the apps using F5's app-wrapping toolkit. F5 says app wrapping occurs post-compile. Users can then download approved corporate apps. IT administers those apps, and the users' mobile devices, from the portal. The portal is run on a SaaS infrastructure managed by F5. F5 says it will host the service initially on Amazon AWS.

Users can continue to download personal apps from Apple, Google and other app stores and use them as they normally would. Personal apps are not "wrapped."

Mobile App Manager also includes a purpose-built e-mail client, calendar and HTML5 Web browser that are governed by corporate policies. The e-mail client works with Exchange via ActiveSync so that users can send and receive e-mail as usual on personal mobile devices. Messages, calendar entries and tasks that are created on the mobile device will also show up in the user's desktop version of Outlook, and vice versa.

Mobile App Manager also includes a client component that allows for table-stakes MDM functions, such as remote lock-out from corporate apps, and full device wipe. It can also detect jailbroken devices.

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As you might expect from F5, Mobile App Manager is designed to integrate with its Big-IP product. Wrapped apps will set up secure tunnels with Big-IP, and Big-IP will serve as an identity and authentication bridge to back-end applications.

F5 says Mobile App Manager will cover Apple iOS and Android 2.x and 4.x platforms. The service, including the portal, email, calendar and browser, starts at $6 per device per month. That cost does not include Big-IP. F5 says Mobile App Manager will be generally available in June.

Citrix MDM Enables Self-Enrollment

Mere months after acquiring BYOD startup Zenprise, Citrix has introduced its own enterprise MDM offering. Dubbed XenMobile, the product eliminates the need for point solutions from multiple vendors and complements its existing mobility offerings, particularly Citrix CloudGateWay, as part of its Mobile Solutions Bundle.

XenMobile MDM integrates directly with Microsoft Active Directory and public key infrastructure systems. It allows users to enroll their devices themselves while IT provisions policies and apps to groups automatically. IT can also detect and block jailbroken devices, blacklist and whitelist apps, and wipe devices that have been lost or stolen, either completely or selectively.

XenMobile and Citrix's Mobile Solutions Bundle will be available Feb. 25; pricing was not disclosed.

GroundWork Launches Red Hat-based Monitor Core

GroundWork's Monitor Core running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux is now available through the Amazon Marketplace and includes the company's new Cloud Hub that lets enterprises monitor hybrid cloud environments.

GroundWork Monitor can communicate with multiple cloud and virtualization platforms, including Amazon EC2, Eucalyptus, VMware vSphere and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, and monitor both Linux and Windows environments, including applications and databases. GroundWork Monitor also detects changes to the cloud environment by periodically querying virtualization and cloud management systems.

GroundWork Monitor Core is available now; pricing is outlined on the Amazon Marketplace. View Full Bio

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